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Marina owners scramble to get boats back in water

Employees at Island Boatyard and Marina use a

Employees at Island Boatyard and Marina use a 25-ton travel lift to put a boat back into the water. (Aug. 30, 2011) Photo Credit: Erin Geismar

John Needham compared preparing for Tropical Storm Irene last week to a football strategy.

"It was a hurry-up offense," said the co-owner of Coecles Harbor Marina in Shelter Island. "There was no time for a huddle, you just go."

In a rush of adrenaline to protect customers' boats from the impending storm, Needham's crew hauled 55 boats out of the water in three and a half days. By comparison, at the end of the season, Needham said they would have hauled and winterized about nine boats in that time frame.

On the other side of the island, James Brantuk, who runs his family's marina, Island Boatyard and Marina, was also beaming with pride over the speedy work.

At his marina, it was about 70 boats hauled in three days. His crew finished around 9 p.m. Saturday, a few hours before the storm hit.

"We were not leaving until we got the job done," he said. "No moaning, no crying."

Until today that is.

With clear skies, calm water and Labor Day weekend around the corner, Needham's whole upper body hunched forward at the thought of the work ahead.

"Now everything goes back in the water," he said. "So people can get in one more week."

Coecles Harbor Marina had about 20 boats back in the water on Tuesday and Island Boatyard had put back about 12.

At both marinas, the boats range in size from 16 feet to 45 feet and the travel lift used to haul them in and out weighs 25 tons.

"There will definitely be a rush toward the weekend," Brantuk said. "And just as much energy as we put into taking them out, we'll need to put them back in."


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